Drivers have been told to expect jams and ‘miles of queuing traffic’ as many schools break up for the summer holidays on Friday, with nine million leisure trips by car predicted over the weekend.
A peak in getaway traffic expected on Friday between 14:00 and 17:30 is likely to combine with regular commuter flows to create what the RAC has labelled a ‘frantic Friday’ where drivers on some routes will experience lengthy delays.
Saturday is likely to be the next busiest day on the roads, with the RAC estimating 3.2 million leisure journeys by car, followed by 2.2 million on Sunday.
Data from INRIX, a transportation analytics provider, suggests that people heading south on the M5 between Gloucester and Devon can expect delays of around an hour and a quarter.
Similarly, those travelling west on the A303 between the M3 in Hampshire and A37 in Somerset can expect journeys to take an hour longer than usual.
RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘This weekend tends to be one of the busiest on the roads for leisure journeys, second only to Easter and Christmas.’
The motoring organisation encouraged drivers to opt for quieter times if at all possible, for example between 19:00 and 21:00 on Friday and 7:00 and 9:00 on Saturday and Sunday.
INRIX data scientist Joshua Kidd said: ‘The shortest routes to popular holiday destinations may not be the quickest. Drivers should ensure they check live traffic reports before setting off and consider using alternative routes to avoid the worst of the congestion.’
The RAC also advised drivers to ensure that the condition of their car is appropriate for the full length of their journey – including checking tyre, battery and air conditioning capability. It said many summer breakdowns are avoidable and a single breakdown or collision could easily extend any delays still further.
Finally it recommended that to avoid ‘hangry’, tired passengers causing ‘carguments’, travellers should pack enough food and water beforehand and regular breaks are scheduled to increase the likelihood of a relaxed, enjoyable journey.